Category Archives: Play Is

Short Meditation on Play

There’s nothing comparable to the ricocheting crescendos of laughing kids engrossed in play. In urban environments and natural settings, kids just want to have fun.  Is there anything more hopeful than a gaggle of kids playing together, leading their own adventures?

Our kids live to play. In the morning they are thinking of what they will be doing after school with their friends. It’s a simple and compelling rhythm. Each day the dance varies but it is always recognizable.  It’s been about 50 years since play has been my ‘core’ activity. I think it’s high time that I start to nudge it back in that direction.


I’m going to look to my own kids for inspiration and see if I can plug into a little  of their mischief and merriment. Moments spent in play with them are thoroughly enjoyable.  I count myself as fortunate when I’m invited to participate, or get to see this play up close. It fills my heart. In fact, I’ve been dreaming of a job as an embedded photographer documenting the spontaneity of kids at play. Please recommend me if you hear of any openings.

And there’s always a vicarious bump of adrenalin and excitement when I witness kids immersed in the moment. The tumultuous racket of school recesses never fails to grab my attention. The next time you pass by a school during recess, stop, look and listen.


For the 15 minutes of glorious release, the school playground is like an orchestra in motion, kinetic soundscapes of bobbing colour. This is where the kids rule, where they run, talk, laugh, find common cause and resolve disputes. This is where their thirst for free form fun is getting quenched. When I do get the chance to hear it, that rolling wave of sound made possible by a critical mass of kids, I invariably smile. It takes me back to my own childhood, to british bulldog, red rover, tag, sports and the freedom to play.

Where are you transported to when you imagine yourself at play?

Play Is

Play is love is play is love
Love is play is love is play

I’ve been reading, thinking, doing more about play over the last couple of years. With three 5 and unders in the house, we have abundant opportunity to immerse ourselves in this imaginative and boisterous world.

I have no formal education in the fields of health, psychology, or physical education, disciplines which touch on correlations between well-being and play. Like many parents, my connections with play are visceral – intuitive understanding at the gut level, physical engagement and abandon.

Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that our capacity to play is built on our experiences of moments of spontaneous playfulness. Cumulatively, these moments create a fertile ground where play can take root and flourish.

Of course, I have no scientific evidence to base this on other than smiles, laughter and happy faces. It’s more of a feeling. What I can offer into the evidentiary record is one short poem on spontaneous play.

pinkies plus eight

i kiss exquisite toes
lingering wriggles on my lips
ten perfectly sugared
dancing on their tips

i taste delicious toes
watering morsels in my mouth
ten fragrant smiling
blossoming down south

i dream laughing toes
tickling twinkles in my eyes
ten warm happy babies
for our nellie-rose surprise

Happy play moments.

Photos – Jamie Bell Adventure Playground, High Park, Toronto, Canada